Presented by Ben Tanzer, Prevent Child Abuse America November 2009
It’s a cognitive failure - they don’t understand what their responsibility could be…
Which is a communications failure - we haven’t successfully shown them what their responsibility could be.
When communications is inadequate, people default to the “pictures in their heads.”
When communications is effective, people can see an issue from a different perspective.
Developing Community Connections: Qualitative Research Regarding Framing Policies (2003) A report of findings from focus groups designed to test the impact of four frames about child abuse and neglect: Child Abuse, Parenting, Child Development, and Community.
Two Cognitive Obstacles to Preventing Child Abuse: The 'Other Mind' Mistake and the 'Family Bubble' (2003) A report on a series of cognitive interviews that identifies two common mistakes in thinking that the public makes about child abuse prevention, and recommendations on how to overcome them.
How the News Frames Child Maltreatment: Unintended Consequences (2003) A report summarizing some of the major patterns in news coverage of child maltreatment – the key narratives, frames and causal stories that are conveyed to the public on the issue.
Discipline and Development: A Meta-Analysis of Public Perceptions of Parents, Parenting, Child Development and Child Abuse (2003) A report reviewing PCA America’s research on child abuse, as well as existing, publicly available opinion research regarding parenting, child development, child abuse and discipline, and the political landscape for child abuse prevention policies.
Breaking the Resistance: Creating a Movement for Prevention (2008)
A report by Dig Communications looking at research results and analysis on Pinwheels for Prevention, Prevent Child Abuse America’s signature campaign.
Framing Child Abuse and Neglect: Effects of Early Childhood Development Experimental Research (2009) A report summarizing results from the latest iteration of FrameWorks experimental research focusing specifically on outcomes related to policies and programs associated with prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect as well as additional policies associated with improving children’s healthy development, family assets, education and mental health.
Message Framing for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention ( c ) FrameWorks Institute This presentation was developed for individual use and cannot be represented, adapted or distributed without the express written permission of the FrameWorks Institute. All images in this presentation are licensed for the purpose of this presentation only and may not be reproduced elsewhere. www.frameworksinstitute.org
Order matters in framing:
Level one - big ideas (prosperity, ingenuity)
Level two - issue types (child abuse, health)
Level three – specific policies/solutions (mental health services, respite care, expansion of SCHIP)
Use causal chains to explain the link between cause and solution- don’t assume the public can connect the dots.
Elements of the Frame
Core story elements:
Metaphors and models
Framing and CAN Initial Research
We know there are three CAN related frames the public diverts to when they hear about CAN
Horrible criminal atrocity
Failure of CPS
Prevalence of sexual predators in our midst
We know we need to avoid the use of CAN statistics and negative graphic imagery
Framing and CAN: Initial Research
We tend to start at level three
The public struggles with the “family bubble”
There are four potential reframes
Early child development
What people think
Parents are solely responsible/family autonomy/the family bubble
Safety is the main concern – protecting kids from harm and disease
If kids don’t do well, lack of parental discipline is the reason
Solution? Parent education, not policy
Reframing and the Core Story of Child Development
Child development is a foundation for community development and economic development, as capable children become he foundation of a prosperous and sustainable society (Prosperity).
The basic architecture of the brain is constructed through an ongoing process that begins before birth and continues into adulthood (Brain Architecture).
Brains are built from the bottom up (Skill Begets Skill).
Interaction of genes and experience shapes the developing brain and relationships are the active ingredient in this Serve and Return process (Serve and Return).
Reframing and the Core Story of Child Development
Cognitive, emotional, and social capacities are inextricably intertwined, and learning, behavior and physical and mental health are inter-related over the life course (Can’t Do One Without The Other).
Toxic stress damages the developing brain and leads to problems in learning, behavior, and increased susceptibility to physical and mental illness over time (Toxic Stress).
Brain plasticity and the ability to change behavior decrease over time and getting it right early is less costly, to society and individuals, than trying to fix it later (Pay Now or Pay Later).
Prosperity: As we look for ways to keep our country prosperous, we need to think of the connection between child development and economic development.
Ingenuity: When we invent and replicate high quality programs for young children, we can solve problems in early childhood development and shown significant long-term improvements for children.
Stewardship/Reciprocity: It is our responsibility as adults to steward the next generation. The future of our society tomorrow depends the opportunities we provide kids today.
Responsible manager: Addressing problems before they get worse is the responsible way to manage our society’s future. Taking advantage of opportunities that arise as we understand science better allows us to innovate.
Brain architecture - WHAT develops
The early years of life matter because early experiences affect the architecture of the maturing brain.
Serve and Return - HOW that architecture gets built
Scientists now know that the interactive influences of genes and
experience shape the developing brain.
Types of Stress - the CONDITIONS that can disrupt development
Scientists now know that “toxic stress” in early childhood is associated with such things as extreme poverty, abuse, or severe maternal depression and damages the developing brain.
The early years of life matter because early experiences affect the architecture of the maturing brain. As it emerges, the quality of that architecture establishes either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for all of the development and behavior that follows --- and getting things right the first time is easier than trying to fix them later. When interpersonal experiences are disruptive, neglectful, abusive, unstable, or otherwise stressful, they increase the probability of poor outcomes. When a young child experiences excessive stress, chemicals are released in the brain that damage its developing architecture.
Scientists now know that the interactive influences of genes and experience shape the developing brain. The active ingredient is the “serve and return” relationships with their parents and other caregivers in their family or community. Like the process of serve and return in games such as tennis and volleyball, young children naturally reach out for interaction through babbling and facial expressions. If adults do not respond by getting in sync and doing the same kind of vocalizing and gesturing back at them, the child’s learning process is incomplete. This has negative implications for later learning.
Scientists now know that “toxic stress” in early childhood is associated with such things as extreme poverty, abuse, or severe maternal depression and damages the developing brain. It is important to distinguish among three kinds of stress. We do not need to worry about positive stress (which is short-lived stress, like getting immunized). Tolerable stress is made tolerable by the presence of supportive relationships, like a strong family when a loved one dies. But toxic stress lasts longer, lacks consistent supportive relationships and leads to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.
Prime the discussion with values like stewardship, future, responsible manager
Use the language of ordinary people, speak like you typically speak to a friend
Talk about children’s social and emotional development as well
Talk about how getting prevention right early is less costly to society, and to individuals, than trying to fix things later
Talk about the shared pleasures of raising children, for everyone
Position pre-school, or early care, as an opportunity for stimulation that all should have access to
Make community actors, neighbors, police officers, teachers, etc., visible in children’s development
Wherever possible connect children to the larger environment outside the home, i.e., school, church, temple, mosque, museums, libraries
Begin the conversation with school readiness, brain, daycare or development
Use the language of experts, e.g., “multi-track, age appropriate development contexts
Focus only on observable learning, i.e., test scores
Use an extortion model: e.g., If you don’t do X, youth crime will go up down the road
Talk about parents as incompetent or super-competent
Make child rearing something you must have resources or education to do well
Reinforce the family, safety or individualism frames verbally or visually
Elements of the core story
Sample Letters to the Editor
Level of prior grassroots organizing
Kindling in small groups
A co-optable communications network
Define not just what the prevention of child abuse and neglect is, but prevention itself and do so in simple language;
Clearly delineate a policy agenda driven by policies focused on prevention;
Articulate the impact of not preventing child abuse and neglect before it occurs, while simultaneously explaining the return on investment in doing so;
Nurture champions; and
Show them the evidence, more and more research is supporting that prevention works.
Provide them with evidence about what we know works in terms of messaging and strategy and then provide the tools to implement these things;
Develop leaders, all collaborative efforts require leadership;
Offer guidance and support in the areas our partners are still building their thinking and presence;
Determine the overarching values and story of prevention that we can all implement in a consistent fashion;
Start small, and then stop assuming we know who our partners are; and
Learn from the experiences of our partners in implementing similar efforts.
Tell a new story, and define the problem, define prevention and define the prevention of child abuse and neglect;
Meet them where they’re at;
Start narrowly, activate messengers and expand;
Articulate the return on investment;
Build on their existing networks and help them grow them; and
Let them know what they can do.
Horrific child abuse case. A child has been sexually abuse and killed by his/her parents. This was an open case with child welfare. The Governor and the community are outraged. The media is covering the case incessantly.
Answer the following questions from a reporter:
Why aren’t our children safer in their own homes?
Why can’t child welfare protect these children?
Why do parents want to kill their children?
Do you agree that this is another example of why state registries for sex offenders are so crucial?
What can we do?
Prepare a Letter to the Editor
Brainstorm hardest questions you get
For example, what is the difference between discipline and abuse?